10 Things You Cannot-Miss When Visiting Ubud, The Heart Of Bali
Author: Matt and Danielle
07 May 2023
Ubud, Gianyar Regency, is a popular tourist destination placed right in the centre of Bali. It's home to traditional Balinese Temples, breathtaking nature, delicious restaurants and amazing artwork. It can also be very busy! If you want to avoid the crowds and get away from the hustle and bustle of the centre of town, then no problem. There are some amazing waterfalls, rice terraces and incredible places to see in the surrounding areas. Here is our complete guide to Ubud, the heart of Bali, and everything you need to know before your trip.
10 OF THE BEST THINGS YOU CAN DO AND SEE IN UBUD
Climb Mt. Batur For Sunrise
This is one of the best things you can do around Ubud. It's an early rise and a full day which will leave you pretty exhausted, but it's so worthwhile. To reach the summit of Mt Batur for sunrise you need to set off around 2 am! It's about an hour from Ubud Town, so at least you can nap on the way. You should be given a flashlight and walking stick to help with the steep climb in the dark. After reaching the top our guide cooked some eggs in the hot stones and steam rising through the volcano. We sat and ate them at the summit with the most incredible views. It's remarkable watching as the sun rises up next to Mt Agung (the largest volcano in Bali) and lights up the surrounding valleys. There's no wonder this is one of the most popular things you can do in Bali.
Visiting the Tegalalang Rice Terraces is a must! It's by far one of the most popular things to do in Ubud. You will have definitely seen the of these all over Instagram. These famous rice fields are about a 25-minute drive from Ubud and because they are so popular it's best to visit them early in the morning. It's a beautiful place, full of amazing beauty that is a must for anyone heading to Ubud. The popular swing costs 150,000 IDR, and it's around 10,000 IDR - 20,000 IDR to access the rice fields.
Top Tip: If you're not too bothered about visiting "the swing" then you could always go to Tis Cafe for a few hours. It's a beautiful day club with a pool and a bunch of incredible Instagramable spots. Once you're inside you can even make your way down to the Tegalalang Rice Terraces for some epic snaps too! Their swing is 50,000 IDR to use, their food and drinks are a great price and it's such a beautiful place.
Kanto Lampo Waterfall
Ubud is located in the centre of Bali, which means it's surrounded by rice fields, waterfalls and tropical rainforests. No Ubud travel itinerary would be complete without a few days set aside for visiting the incredible waterfalls in the area. First up we have Kanto Lampo Waterfall, which is definitely one the best in the area. It's a large and wide waterfall which creates an amazing backdrop for some epic photos. If you pay one of the local guides at the bottom then they will perform some magic with your phone. They make it seem like the waterfall has turned to smoke!
Tibumana Waterfall is another popular waterfall in the centre of Bali. It's about an hour from the centre of Ubud with a beautiful drive through nature. This particular waterfall has a bamboo raft at the bottom which you can hop on for some Tarzan and Jane vibe pictures!
Leke Leke Waterfall
One of the last main waterfalls we will mention here. Leke Leke is halfway between Ubud and Munduk, so you can visit it from either part of Bali. It's one of the most visited and popular places in Bali, and it is easy to see why once you arrive. It's a tall stream of water rushing out from the cliffs and bursting through the jungle. It's incredibly beautiful.
Sumampan is about 30 minutes south of Ubud and a great place to visit that is tucked away in the rainforest. The walk down isn't so bad, at least there are steps. When you get to the bottom you have to make your way across the powerful river to the waterfall on the other side. Luckily there is a rope that you can hold onto which makes the journey much easier. If you have some friends with you then the footage of getting across makes for some hilarious behind-the-scenes moments!
No trip to Ubud would be complete without a stop at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Unlike the coast of Bali, the Ubud area is surrounded by rice paddies and jungle. It's within the jungle that this Monkey Sanctuary is, which will take you on a blast to a very distant past. The temple structure and the jungle are now so intertwined that it feels like the jungle has swallowed up the ancient buildings. The monkeys of course love this as they roam free, which is incredible to see. Be very careful with any cameras, glasses and food as they will run up and try and steal them from you if they can. T
Top Tip: For a small fee you can get a picture with the help of a local guide. They have a secret way to get a picture where it looks like the monkey is taking a selfie with you!
Ubud Water Palace
Located in Ubud is the Water Palace (also called Pura Taman Saraswati). It is free to enter however, a strict dress code must be adhered to. You must be wearing something that covers your shoulders and mid-riffs, as well as a sarong that covers your knees. It's a stunning palace which we would highly recommend visiting. You can see a lot of the Bali culture here, and it's where the classic Legong Dance Show performance is held. This traditional Balinese dance performance at the Ubud Palace has been preserved through many generations. It is known as one of the most revered classic dance pieces in all of Bali.
White Water Rafting
If you're looking for something with a bit more action then white water rafting down the Ayung River is an action-packed few hours. It is full of thrills, drops, falls and phenomenal views. The nature on this rafting tour is beyond remarkable. The river flows practically through the centre of Ubud, yet still, there are towering cliffs and so much plant life. It's an incredible trip.
Ubud Art Market
Amazing artwork can be found throughout Ubud. There are some of the most amazing wood carvers, painters and weavers. You can find incredible pieces of just about any type of arts and crafts that you can think of. Visiting some of the small shops and art galleries here will leave you in awe of how a single person can accomplish some of these works of art. In order to see the hidden side and some of the best artists you need to take a guided tour. There are so many places tucked away from the main streets and in the surrounding villages close to Ubud that it's the only way to see it all. If your time is limited then there are still amazing works of art to see along the main highstreets.
Other places To Visit In Ubud.
Have longer to spend in Ubud? Been before and already seen some of the above? There are still even more awesome things to see while you're in the centre of Bali. Here are some extras you might like:
Campuhan ridge walk: It's a must-do while you are in Ubud. It's a great walk along the ridge looking out at the jungle and rice paddies below. There are better views throughout Bali, but it's still worth a visit.
Goa Gajah (The Elephant Cave): An impressive cave just a short 10-minute scooter ride outside of Ubud. It's called the Elephant Cave because it's close to the Elephant River. Its entrance alone is worth the visit as it has a lot of demon faces carved into the rocks!
Bayan Ancient Tree: It's a very large tree that is worth visiting, but it won't be the thing you rush home to tell your friends and family you saw. You can couple it up with Leke Leke while you're that way too.
Suwat Waterfall: It's nice and there is a raft that has been placed aesthetically for pictures. It's a very nice waterfall, we just preferred the others above.
Relax In A Tropical Paradise: A trip to Bali doesn't have to be constant adventure travel, you need some time to relax too. Unlike Southern Bali where you can head to a beach, where do you relax in the centre? You can visit yoga studios, cafes... or an awesome day club like Omma Day Club or Jungle Fish.
Convieniently Omma Day Club is located right in front of Tegenungan Waterfall. This means you can see an amazing waterfall while some time in lavish luxury.
Where To Eat In Ubud?
Canggu is commonly known to foodies as the place to be, but central Ubud can definitely give it some competition. Here are some of the best restaurants and cafes in Ubud:
Blend: The best smoothie bowl in Bali, and we don't say that lightly...it is a work of art. On Thursday's they do 2-4-1 on all smoothie bowls!
Nostimo: One of the best Greek restaurants you're likely to find on the island. Very good, well-priced food.
Wedja: A local gem where you can eat amazing food in an incredibly beautiful setting.
Compounds Warung: A small family-run Warung, if you spend over 100k then you get free pancakes.
Suka Espresso: These are found in most major areas in Bali, but it's always good food. They have a bunch of offers and their cakes are amazing too.
Sushi Key: This is a small cart you would very easily drive past without giving it a second glance. Worth a stop for some very good sushi at a great price.
Mamma Mia: Italian with good portions and well-priced food. Not the best Italian food we have had in Bali, but a very good pizza if you're in Ubud.
Anomali Coffee: Great coffee, pastries and food. They make one hell of a cheese toastie.
Bali Board Cafe: One to note down for any cheese lovers out there...which we are! For 200K you're not likely to find a better cheeseboard around.
Where To Stay In Ubud
Ubud offers some of the best hotels and villas around. We spent a month there and during that time split our stay across two different places. We haven't stayed everywhere so will only recommend what we have experienced. Here's where we stayed and the prices:
Taman Harum: Somewhere that does Ubud justice, as you feel like you're really in the middle of nature. The room we had was huge, and the walk through the garden/ courtyard is beautiful. There are plants and trees everywhere! The wifi could have been a tad better, but the beauty of the place is worth it.
Sandat Home Bali: One of the most authentic places you can find in Ubud, and we are so happy we stayed here. It's a family-run homestay in the centre of Ubud City, and you are immersed in Balinese culture from the moment you arrive. The hosts insist on being called Momma and Poppa, and they entire family are incredibly kind and generous. It's not uncommon to be fed and get a great massage for a mere donation here! We would most definitely come back again.
How to get around? With so much natural beauty right on Ubud's doorstep you have to get outside the centre of town. As always in Bali we find it best to rent your own scooter or motorbike for the duration of your stay. It's the best way to get about, and do everything on your own time. If you aren't confident in riding a scooter then don't worry. You can easily hire a driver or download Grab and Gojec (they're like Uber) for getting around the city.
Best time of year to visit? June to September is the best time to visit Ubud. With it being located in the middle of Bali it can be hit hard by the Wet seasons. July and August are peak seasons where it should be warm and dry the whole time.
Ubud is the perfect place in Bali to experience Balinese culture, nature, works of art and temples. It's an incredible part of the island that you should embrace during your stay. We hope this Ubud Travel Guide helps you plan the perfect Bali itinerary for your trip around this fantastic island.